This is what comes of hard working parents. This is what comes of a bloodline of conflict. The English, the Irish and The Indian settled along the wilderness of the Hudson River at the dawn of America. This is what comes from being birthed in country music, raised on Rock 'N' Roll, schooled in jazz, blues, joy and pain. This is what comes from the captain of the football team, the left-handed pitcher, the perpetual C student, the Lit major. This is what comes from shooting dope in ghetto alleys, shit jobs, cubicles and florescent lighting. This is what comes from a teacher, a garbageman and a gravedigger who spent too many long nights in jail. This is what comes of not belonging to a political party, a corporation, a label or a clique. This is what comes of being baptized in the spirit of Coltrane, the fury of Mingus, the meditation of Cohen, the righteous indignation of Strummer and Guthrie. This is what comes of Lou Reed and Chuck D hanging on a New York street corner, rapping about unrest, revolution and love. This is what comes of a hundred thousand miles of dark highway and 200 long nights a year in smoky bars, coffee shops, and the living rooms of strangers. This is what comes from listening to stories of the downtrodden, sleeping in back seats, stopping in the small towns, selling one record at a time out of the trunk of an old, beat-up car. This is what comes: Grace and Grit. Heart and Soul. Darkness and Light. Mike June.
- Kristin LaTour, poet, Chicago, IL
"Mike June doesn’t pull his punches. At all. His latest release is filled with biting commentary about society, politics and religion. He approaches it with a working-man’s perspective, certainly jaded but with a spirit that flirts between combative and cautiously optimistic.
“Big corporations too big to fail, politicians and bankers too rich to jail,” he rages on the acoustic rocker “The Darkness,” before declaring, “The Darkness has got me but it ain’t killed me yet… I’ll fight the Darkness.”
Later, on the bristling “Fall From Grace,” he chronicles a host of political and social woes that range from economic injustice to global conflict. “You can’t lead from the darkness into the light with a cross in your left hand and a gun in your right,” he cautions as a driving rhythm and beefy guitars give the song extra bite.
“God Gave Up” offers a somber reflection on the terrorism rampant in the world today. “On the seventh day he rested,” he sings, “on the eighth day he cried.” Yet he maintains hope, concluding:
We could learn to love
Take this broken kingdom
Build it back up
God won’t give up on us
We can change it “
Lest anyone think June is all vitriol, he adds a new classic to the baseball canon. “The Baseball Song” pays homage to America’s pastime, a colorful tale of a minor leaguer with big dreams. “Biding my time, riding the pine,” he explains, “When I get my chance I’m gonna touch them all.” He even waxes poetic about the New York teams, to wit: “God bless the New York Yankees, God help the Mets,” he sings, “God bless you Louis Armstrong, it ain’t over yet.” No love for the Red Sox, Mike?
Regardless of whether we agree with June’s world view (or favored baseball teams), there’s one fact that is indisputable. Poor Man’s Bible is a potent rock and roll record."
Poor Man’s Bible
The Kicking and Screaming Sound of the Suburbs!
I’d not heard of Mike June when he first got in touch offering a copy of this, his fifth album; but he asked nicely and I said ‘send a copy; but no promises.’
A shiny new CD arrived a week or so later; but sadly it has just sat in the ‘to do’ box gathering dust until last week.
I don’t know why, I took it out to play on a car journey; perhaps/probably it was the title Poor Man’s Bible which attracted me; especially with my recent return to the political battlegrounds.
Although not a fan; the neatly plucked banjo instantly caught my attention on opening track Let It Go; then when June’s world weary voice oozed out of the stereo on a gloriously sad song that combines Religious imagery with a tale of a life in torment as a travelling musician and I was instantly enthralled. Seriously; this is a GREAT song; and one that will resonate with most of the artists on this here site.
June goes ‘electric’ on the next track, Working In Vain and it’s just my kinda Rock n’ Roll…..a fabulous ‘punch the air’ rocker, full of crunchy guitars, an electric keyboard and a trio of girls belting out the “Working in Vain” chorus. What’s not to like?
First time out I rewound it three times before going into track #3 Cotton Fields; a cool and dark slice of atmospheric Southern Blues; with a slide guitar sounding like a flick knife and lyrics so sharp and edgy, you will wonder why you’ve not heard of this guy….I know that’s how I felt and still feel.
Certainly no complaint; but just when you get a ‘feel’ for Mike June’s ‘style’ he throws a curve ball by effortlessly moving genres, like the gears in my car; with God Gave Up being a sensitive piece of 70’s singer-songwriter Folk singing, then following it with another punchy Rocker …Fall From Grace, which could be Billy Bragg singing some long forgotten Springsteen track.
I really can’t recommend this album highly enough; especially the title track Poor Man’s Bible which is a swinging almost Gospellish Alt. Country anthem that again; will touch the hearts and minds of most people who read the reviews on this site; that song plus the simple and haunting Jon Dee’s Blues which could bring a tear to a glass eye.
It’s discovering artists like Mike June what makes this all worthwhile; he can certainly write a song; and the theme throughout of the ‘working man of all colours and persuasions is being trampled on’ but his execution of those songs is second to none; and her certainly has his finger on the button in a way Bruce hasn’t had for 20 years or more."
Released May 2016